PowerPlayer: Keith Stokes

Monday, May 02, 2011


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Over the past year, Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Keith Stokes has been scrutinized more than almost every politician in the state. From the EDC’s controversial loan approval for Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios to his relationship with Governor Lincoln Chafee, virtually every aspect of Stokes’ life has been on public display.

Such is life when budget deficits and fiscal mismanagement appear to be the only topics anybody wants to talk about these days. But Stokes continues to push forward. The Cornell and University of Chicago graduate has continued to prove he is as politically savvy as he is business savvy.

Stokes was kind enough to spend a few minutes chatting with GoLocalProv about his day-to-day life and the EDC’s role in Rhode Island. He also gave a little insight into how he would change the state if he were running the show.

1) Take us through a day in your life.

Once I get up in the morning, I prepare for the day by reading several newspapers and scanning news websites for lead stories and issues. My daily work schedule typically runs between 8 am and 8 pm, where I have staff and company meetings along with business and community visits. Also, I attend municipal meetings, and business and community-related events in the early evenings. Twice a week I meet with the governor to discuss topical and critical economic development projects and plans. At home I spend my time watching either Celtics or Red Sox games while catching up with e-mails and messages to prepare for the next day.

2) What does it take to get a loan from the EDC? Tell us about the process.

The EDC offers many types of capital and credit programs to meet the needs of a wide range of businesses.  Over the last year, the General Assembly has expanded our capability to provide additional capital for small businesses.  Viewers should visit www.riedc.com to review what programs best fits their capital and credit needs.

3) What is the single most important factor when it comes to economic development in Rhode Island?

Workforce education, training and development.  If we do not prepare our own citizenry with the necessary education and training skills to fill the high-skill, high-wage jobs of today and tomorrow, we will have failed to achieve the ultimate benefits of having a robust state economy.

4) What is the most disappointing part of your job?

Seeing the day-to-day pain and frustration of so many Rhode Islanders out of work and small businesses struggling to survive through this devastating national recession.

5) Give us the top three ways to change Rhode Island for the better.

  1. Ensure that every student, regardless where they might live and go to school, achieves equal access to a quality education.
  2. Advocate for tax and state budget policies that increase jobs and wages, and encourage entrepreneurs to invest and grow in Rhode Island.
  3. Unlike any state in the nation, Rhode Island’s compact size provides us with the rare opportunity to achieve the most efficient and effective means to deliver all necessary government services within a manageable scale and a reasonable cost.

6) Tell us something nobody knows about.

I rescue pit-bull breed dogs.

Quick Hitters

Role Model:  My father

Favorite Restaurant: I’m EDC director; every RI restaurant is my favorite.

Best Beach: DITTO

Best Book You've Read In The Last Year: 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

Advice For The Next Keith Stokes: Be humble, forward-looking, patient and be positive about Rhode Island.

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